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Health Insurance Exchange Applications: We can do better

Blog 1This post was written by CH alum, Amy Behrens. 

New health insurance applications are being promoted by the Obama administration as a major step in improving access to the new health exchanges created by the Affordable Care Act (ACA). And while we’re happy to see refinements to the original application, we’re left wondering if the administration could do even more.

We applaud efforts to reduce the length of the 21-page application; the new form is broken down into 3 shorter, more manageable applications (you select the form that applies to you based on your marital and employment status). But we think further efforts could really revolutionize the arduous task of filling out health insurance forms.

What’s needed is a closer look at the user experience:

  • Where are people getting confused or frustrated?
  • How long does it really take to fill out the form correctly?
  • How can the design, layout, format, structure, and language be improved?

It’s logical to think that making a long form shorter would make it easier to fill out. But if usability and plain language are left out of the process, users will continue to struggle — adding yet another unnecessary barrier to accessing affordable health care. We would love to see this form (and all forms!) tested with intended users.

We encourage you to take a look at the forms for yourself:

And check out the Kaiser Health News blog post, which so far is our favorite take on the new form.

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